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The something pitch

Fastball, curveball, slider, change.

Fastball, curveball, slider, change.

Fastball, curveball, slider, change.

This is what makes sense to me. 

 

The phenomenal fire of a Harden heater. The perplexing prowess of a Koufax curve. The baffling break of a good Street slider. The deceptive dive of an Okajima off-speed. These are concepts that I can handle. That I can see, understand and break down. These are topics that I speak about passionately, without hesitation and without having to worry about sounding foolish.

These are the details I can grasp.

While I may not fully comprehend the delicate descent of a curveball, I can appreciate an incredible 12-6 break. I know the importance of having a change to complement the fastball, the finesse it takes to be a precision pitcher and the value of being able to induce groundballs with a strong sinker.

This is what I know.

Even here at Pacific, there are things that I know. I know how to be a good student. I understand that I need to make sacrifices to get ahead. I see that the path to getting to where I want to be is going to be long, grueling and trying.  I can deal with the fastballs of freshman year, the curveballs of college classes, the sliders of six-hour study sessions and the change-ups of unexpected challenges. I’m strong, determined and willing to confront problems head-on. It’s what I need to do.

But lately, why is it that life has become as difficult as understanding Rip Sewell’s eephus?

I’ve been caught off-guard. Because while I’ve been facing college straight on, making sure my classes and papers are taken care of, applying for every baseball, basketball and football internship that has an opening in hopes that they’ll hire a first year undergrad, I’ve been disregarding one of the most important aspects of my being—my emotions. If I stopped, even for a split second… if I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the bedlam in my brain. But then, almost as if some force was begging me to stop, the eephus was thrown at me. My life had been moving at a ridiculous pace and I had no time to think let alone stop and see where things were going. My days had become devoid of any activity that didn’t have to do with school, work or… avoiding my feelings. I had been living at such a high speed, for a while, I could afford to ignore the eephus. Evil, undecipherable eephus. Overwhelming, heartbreaking, eephus. I could deal with the rest of it—I fouled off the fastballs, watched the curves fall out of the strike zone and laid off the sliders, waiting for my pitch, hoping that soon, things would fall into place, the heartache would go away and everything would balance out.

Well, it didn’t work. The eephus dazed me. It seemed like my once hurried existence had stopped. And even though I could see the it coming at me, tumbling, toppling, turning over and under, I could not get it. In all its abstract grace, he lobbed it at me and I was incapable of reacting, stopped dead in my tracks and watched as I tried to get the best of it but could do nothing but flail awkwardly. He threw it once, threw it twice and with each time he threw it, I lost more and more confidence in being able to overcome it. The eephus was winning. My plan of keeping busy, constantly moving, having no time to stop was failing me.

It was as if time stopped with the junk pitch. Although it was moving with impossible swiftness, my life up until then made sense. The pieces fit together. I knew what I had and what I wanted, even though the two consisted of completely different things. I could decipher the movement within each pitch life threw me and decide whether to chance it and swing. While I was up, the pitches went on forever, one right after the other, endless heaters, breakers, sliders, changes flying by. I kept fouling them off, but the pitches like moments were fleeting. I didn’t have time to think about what I saw, what I experienced, what I felt. I just had time to swing. But then it came. It exposed a weakness in me that I didn’t even know existed. The funny thing is, I’d been expecting it. The first eephus, I knew it was coming. Still, I clutched my heart, snatched back my doubts and watched it pass by. I stared at the arching path it took as it broke over me in slow motion. Stunned, staggered, surprised, I took the pitch like a harsh blow. The second eephus was imminent, but of course, I chose to turn a blind eye to it. I was wishing, hoping that it had been nothing but a discrepancy. Something that wasn’t a threat to me. When it came, I was slightly more prepared than I was for the first, but still, I was at loss at what to do. I managed to foul it off and while it hurt, more than I could ever imagine, I managed to keep going. I was… okay. I was still standing.

All at once, it came to me. It was no use to let the eephus beat me. It was nothing but an anomaly, a glitch in my life that shouldn’t instill fear in my heart. I had no defense against the eephus—I’d never seen it before. Not in that form, at least. In the past, I’d been put up against the confusing throws of heartbreak, but I’d managed to overcome it. This time, it was different. This freak of a pitch left me winded and unable to move.

But then it happened.

The third one, elusively elegant and terribly tormenting, suddenly made sense. The pieces fell into place and this something pitch that had me off balance was no longer my monster. As I considered the eephus that was bending and breaking toward me with perfect accuracy, I knew what I had to do. I charged, swung my best Ted Williams swing and the devil pitch that had gotten the best of me and exposed the worse of me was gone. As I laughed my way around the diamond, I felt the need to hurry, rush, and speed through life leave my soul. I survived.

While I may still have trouble following the awkward beauty of the junk pitch, I am truly conscious of how significant the ability to overcome it is. I know how much stronger it makes me, how much wiser I became and how much more self-awareness I obtained.

That is what I know.

The tempestuous tides of hellish heartbreak. The calming candidness of significant self-discovery. The reassuring release of liberating lamentations. These are concepts that I’ve grown to experience, accept and embrace. They are the events and happenings that will shape who I am and will become.

Those are the details I can grasp.

Fastball, curveball, slider, change.

Fastball, curveball, slider, change.

Fastball, curveball, slider, change.

Eephus.

That is what now makes sense to me.

 

 

Inspired by Paul Jackson, ESPN Page 2; The something pitch

 

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